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THE LUNCH THIEF by Anne C. Bromley


by Anne C. Bromley & illustrated by Robert Casilla

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: July 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-88448-311-3
Publisher: Tilbury House

When a new classmate steals his lunch, Rafael first hesitates to say anything for fear of a fight, but later, when he sees that the boy is living in a motel, he realizes that Kevin may be stealing because he’s hungry. The story stresses Rafael’s mother’s advice, “Use your mouth before your fists,” and, indeed, when the pudgy boy decides he can share his food, the problem is solved. Casilla (First Day in Grapes, 2002) has provided realistic, if stiff, illustrations, done in colored pencil, watercolor and pastel. Emphasizing people’s faces, they back off occasionally to show glimpses of the classroom, neighborhood and baseball field. Rafael’s Latino heritage is evident in his burrito lunches, but the classroom group is diverse. The Southern California setting is clear from the reference to fires in the Jacinto Valley, but this situation of hidden hunger and homelessness could take place anywhere in the country. Well-meaning but not particularly engaging, this slight story may be most useful in classrooms where tolerance and social-justice issues are being explicitly taught. (Picture book. 8-12)